‘Real’ In America: The Fight To Be Who We Are

“Real is what makes you who you are.”

That line was uttered by the character of Oliver Grayson on this week’s episode of the Freeform series, The Bold Type. That line was uttered on the same day that The Orange One tweeted that transgender individuals would be banned from serving in the U.S. military in any capacity. Why? The cost... and the disruption. Bullshit!!

When I first saw those tweets the Dorothy Parker quote variation, “What fresh hell is this,” ran through my mind. (Isn’t every day another fresh hell?) I was angry, numb, and pretty fucking infuriated all day. The Orange One is no friend or supporter of the LGBTQ community. His actions since taking office have proven that. He is a liar. He does not have our backs. It seems as if he would sell us — well, anyone really — down the river if it was beneficial for him. He’s a divisive distractor who owes Diane Warren (and Cher) a royalty check for trying to “turn back time.”

I’m fucking proud of every transgender individual in this world who has had the courage to be who they are. I’m even prouder of the transgender individuals who have voluntarily joined (and serve openly) a branch of the male- and hetero-centric military in this already GREAT country. Realness on display. No shame. No hiding. Truth in person.

Real — true, genuine, authentic. Don’t we all want to be real? Show our authentic selves to the world? Be who we are? Live out loud? I can’t imagine the courage it takes for a transgender individual to come out, reveal their truth, live their authentic life. Hell, I still struggle on a daily basis just to express my queer gender-expansiveness to the world. I personally like a swipe of mascara and a shimmer of highlighter, a heel and a blingy piece of jewelry. But I digress.

Anyone represented by a letter in the acronym LGBTQ is being real by coming out, by being themselves. I am a gay, more-fem-than-masc, gender-expansive man who is on guard almost daily when I leave my house. That’s because I’m showing myself — being real — in a country where leaders call transgender soldiers a “disruption,” where law makers try to diminish the lives of people they deem morally subversive, where citizens think their religious freedom deserves more protection than my life. Regardless of that, we L’s, G’s, B’s, T’s, & Q’s do not deserve all the fear, hate, and discrimination that comes our way. We’re human beings, god damn it. I’m so tired of the fear that strangled my childhood. The fear that I continue to allow to inhibit my present. Do you think a heterosexual man knows what it feels like to walk down the street and fear a verbal or physical intrusion that could interrupt an otherwise peaceful existence, just because? I doubt it.

The time for hiding is over. We exist. We matter. All of us: L, G, B, T, & Q. We ALL matter. We no longer live in our closets. The doors have been opened — in some cases blown off. We are human beings who want nothing more than to live our lives. I, for one, am tired of carrying around the weight of valuelessness that has repressed me since childhood. We are normal. We are smart. We are beautiful. We are angry. Yes. Angry. Because we have to keep fighting against the bigoted prejudice provoked by people’s fear and religious beliefs just to have the equality that should inherently be ours. We are deserving. We will not be erased. We will not be quiet. We will not be censured. We will be REAL.

I am proud to know every transgender individual that I have the privilege of calling my friend. Their courage to be their authentic selves puts my own courageous endeavors to shame. I love them as individuals, as warriors, as trailblazers, as reals.

The Orange One’s ban dishonors the human beings who want to serve this country. However, he will fade away into history (the wrong side of) while we continue to fight for progress and move this country forward.

To every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning) individual out there in the world: thank you for coming out, thank you for being yourself, thank you for shining your light, thank you for living your truth, thank you for being unapologetically real.

Real is what makes us who we are.